Whether you are looking to try out a new restaurant near home or visiting Iowa, you’ll find some great places to enjoy a good meal. Iowa doesn’t get the attention it deserves for its food, but it has some amazing restaurants.
You can find various culinary traditions at iconic Iowa restaurants. Some restaurants stand out because of their continued presence in Iowa and others have a distinctive atmosphere or a rich history. However, all of the iconic Iowa restaurants below have great food and are worthy of your bucket list.
Rube’s Steakhouse, Montour
118 Elm St.
Rube’s is more than a steakhouse, it’s a way to connect with others.
You might not think about cooking your own food when you go out to eat, but that is precisely what happens when you visit Rube’s Steakhouse. Guests choose their favorite protein from Rube’s menu and grill it over an open barbecue.
The restaurant prides itself on supporting local farmers, so you’ll only find premium Iowa beef on its menu. If you aren’t skilled at grilling, don’t worry—the waitstaff is there to help you. Rube’s offers pork, chicken, and shrimp for those who aren’t fans of steak.
Bluff Lake Catfish Farm, Maquoketa
9301 95th Ave.
Nestled along the Maquoketa River between two lakes and a waterfall, Bluff Lake Catfish Farm’s location is as much a part of what makes it iconic as its food.
This Iowa gem is only open on weekends and it doesn’t take reservations, so make sure to get there early and don’t miss out on some fabulous seafood.
Although it has a few items served a la carte and a kids’ menu, its primary offering is all-you-can-eat dishes. You definitely need to wear stretchy pants!
Typically, it serves catfish and shrimp on Fridays, haddock on Saturdays, and chicken and shrimp on Sundays.
Ox Yoke Inn, Amana
4420 220th Trail
The Amana Colonies are one of Iowa’s National Historic Landmarks.
These seven villages were founded by German immigrants in 1855 and settlers engaged in a communal way of life until the Great Depression. In today’s Amana, tradition and history run deep.
The Ox Yoke Inn is among the most famous places to go to enjoy some authentic German food in Iowa. It keeps the culinary history of Amana Colonies alive with an expansive menu that includes popular German dishes handed down from generation to generation.
The Ox Yoke Inn has some common American dishes to please the crowds, but you need to try some schnitzel or sauerbraten or other German specialties. Don’t forget to bring a homemade strudel or pie home for dessert!
Northwestern Steakhouse, Mason City
304 16th St. NW
If you don’t want to cook your own steak at Rube’s, another iconic steakhouse in Iowa is the family-operated Northwestern Steakhouse in Mason City.
This is among Iowa’s most famous restaurants because it’s been around since 1920, but it isn’t your typical steakhouse. Northwestern uses top-quality Iowa beef—but they broil it, Greek-style, so it melts in your mouth.
In addition to filets, ribeyes, and other popular cuts of beef, you will also find lamb chops, roasted chicken, broiled shrimp, and Canadian walleye on its menu.
General Store Pub, Stone City
12612 Stone City Rd.
The General Store Pub’s claim to fame is that the limestone building where it’s located was included in Grant Wood’s first major landscape painting, “Stone City Iowa,” painted in 1930—the same year as “American Gothic.”
The pub is about 30 miles northeast of Cedar Rapids and lies on the Wapsipinicon River.
Whether you enjoy the water view on the outside two-level deck or dine indoors, you’re sure to find something you like on the General Store’s quirky menu.
Try some “River Rocks” for an appetizer (white cheddar Wisconsin cheese curds) or, for your entree, enjoy some “Wapsi Willies,” which are butterflied and breaded shrimp caught daily in the river. If you cannot decide what to try, you can always get one of the restaurant’s amazing pizzas.
By Jessica Lee
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. Find ISL on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Rob Johnson knows no one will truly be able to fill the footsteps left by Ako Abdul-Samad, but he hopes to continue to the longtime Des Moines...
Bills requiring teaching children anti-abortion curriculum, pushing the idea of fetal personhood, explicitly disrupting Iowans' access to health...
Grammy-winning, Hall-of-Fame thrash metal rockers Metallica are making marching band competitions cool for a whole new crowd. In April, the band...
Iowa farmers only plant corn and beans, you say? Tell that to the 100+ Christmas tree farms dotted across Iowa's snowy landscape this time of year,...